The Idaho Vandals (3-7, 2-5) make a long cross country trip as they face the Auburn Tigers (5-5, 2-5) in a non-conference matchup Saturday afternoon. Auburn took a 30-23 win on September 11, 1999 at home in the only previous matchup between the programs. Idaho covered the line in that contest as they were a 10.5 point underdog.
Idaho dropped their third straight game as they were pulverized 47-20 at home by Appalachian State last Saturday. Auburn lost for the third time in four games as they fell 20-13 at home to Georgia last week. The kickoff from Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama is scheduled for 4:00 pm ET and the game will be televised on the SEC Network. Auburn is currently a 34 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 62.5 points.
Idaho just a few weeks ago was poised to reach the .500 mark as they faced a winless New Mexico State team. Now they’ve dropped three straight and the gloom of another failed season hangs over the program. Idaho was within 21-13 at the half but was outscored 26-7 in the second half by the Mountaineers. The Vandals were outgained 511-299, lost the first down battle 29-17 and were thumped in the time of possession battle by a 36:44 to 23:16 margin. On the bright side, Idaho didn’t turn the ball over but they didn’t force a turnover either.
The Vandals put up 270.7 yards per game (32nd in the nation in passing offense) through the air and 145.5 yards per game (95th in the nation in rushing) on the ground. Idaho averages 29.2 points per game but they are miserable when it comes to stopping the opposition as they allow 41.8 points per contest, leaving them sitting 122nd in the nation in scoring defense. Matt Linehan has completed 210 of 329 passes for 2,468 yards with 14 touchdowns and 10 picks while adding 193 rushing yards plus three touchdowns on the year. Jake Luton is 37 of 62 for 239 yards and three picks while adding 39 yards and four scores on the ground. Elijhaa Penny leads the Vandals in rushing yards as he has 220 carries for 1,017 yards and seven scores while Aaron Duckworth chips in 57 carries for 193 yards and three touchdowns. Dezmon Epps leads the team with 61 receptions for 762 yards and two touchdowns while Callen Hightower has 38 receptions for 390 yards plus a score and Penny has 17 grabs out of the backfield. Buck Cowan (35 grabs, 482 yards, 4 TD) and Deon Watson (33 receptions, 377 yards, 5 TD) are in the mix for targets as well. Callen Hightower (40 receptions, 460 yards, TD) and Penny (25 receptions out of the backfield) are good secondary options. Austin Rehkow has hit 30 of 31 extra points and 20 of 23 field goal attempts this season with a long of 44 yards.
Auburn fell short against Georgia and with the loss; they sank to the bottom of the SEC West. Auburn led 10-3 at the half and was tied at 10 after three quarters; they gave up a punt return for a score in the fourth quarter and the Tigers never recovered. The Tigers outgained the Bulldogs 275-243, picked up 16 first downs to Georgia’s 15 but were crushed in time of possession by a 35:49 to 24:11 margin in the game. In addition to giving up the punt return for a score, the Tigers committed three turnovers in the game while failing to record a takeaway.
The Tigers are a below average passing offense as they are 109th in the nation (177.4 yards) in that category while ranking 43rd in rushing offense (191.3 yards) on the season. Auburn is scoring 25 points per game but they are allowing 23.8 points per game, which is tied for 63rd in scoring defense this season. Sean White is starting at quarterback now; he’s 75 of 130 passing for 1,064 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions while rushing for 35 yards. He supplanted Jeremy Johnson, who is 71 of 114 passing for 710 yards with six touchdowns and seven picks while adding 106 rushing yards and three scores. Peyton Barber is the feature back in the system with 206 carries for 900 yards and 12 scores. Roc Thomas (34 carries, 154 yards), Jovon Robinson (61 carries, 363 yards, TD) and Kerryon Johnson (42 carries, 174 yards, 2 TD) are next in line; Thomas was expected to be the starter but was bumped by Barber’s big early season performances. Ricardo Louis leads the Tigers with 40 receptions for 585 yards and a pair of scores; Marcus Davis (24 receptions, 148 yards, TD) is next in line. D’haquille Williams was booted off the team last month, dealing a blow to the receiving corps. Daniel Carlson has hit all 27 extra points and 20 of 23 field goals, including 4 of 5 from beyond 50 yards with a long of 56.
Idaho is 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven after an ATS loss, 4-1 ATS in their last five after a straight up loss and 4-1 ATS in their last five after allowing at least 40 points. Auburn is 5-16 ATS in their last 21 overall, 3-12 ATS in their last 15 on grass, 1-5 ATS in their last six in November, 1-8 ATS in their last nine at home and 0-7 ATS in their last seven non-conference games.
The Tigers have been woefully inconsistent since the start of the season and the roller coaster situation at quarterback continues here. Idaho hasn’t impressed anyone of late after dropping three straight but the bottom line is that the Tigers aren’t five touchdowns better than the Vandals, even playing at home, at this point in time. If you’re playing the line, take the points and Idaho; if you’re playing straight up, Auburn still gets the nod in a closer than expected game.